No. 520.
Mr. White to Mr. Bayard .

No. 749.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith two extracts from the Times of the 8th instant and of to-day, containing reports of questions asked in the House of Commons with reference to Samoan affairs, and of the answers given thereto by Sir James Fergusson, under secretary of state for foreign affairs.

I have, etc.,

Henry White.
[lnclosure 1 in No. 749.—The London Times, Tuesday, May 8, 1888.]


Mr. W. McArthur asked the under-secretary of state for foreign affairs whether the agreements of 1879 and 1883 between Great Britain, Germany, the United States, and Samoa were all signed by Malietoa as King of Samoa; whether the Government had ever had any reason to complain of the non-fulfillment by Malietoa of any part of those agreements; whether the attention of the Government had been called to a proclamation issued to the Samoans on the 25th of August, 1887, and signed by the British pro-consul, Mr. H. Wilson, in which occurred these words: “Now, therefore, we, the undersigned representatives of the United States of America and Great Britain, hereby give notice that we and our Governments do not and never have recognized Tamasese as King of Samoa, but continue as heretofore to recognize Malietoa;” whether the consent of the British and United States Governments was asked for by Germany prior to the seizure and deportation of Malietoa by a German ship-of-war; whether the Government proposed to acquiesce in the action of Germany; whether they knew that a large majority of the Samoan people were in favor of Malietoa as against Tamasese; whether Malietoa had repeatedly wished to take measures with regard to Tamasese, but had been restrained by the repeated assurances of the English [Page 717] consul that if peace were kept in the island the influence of England should always be used to preserve Malietoa’s right to the throne; whether the British Government had ceased to recognize Malietoa as King of Samoa; if so, when and why; and whether the Government regarded the convention as being: still in force as between Great Britain, the United States, and Samoa.

Sir J. Fergusson. The first, second, and fourth questions of the honorable gentleman must be answered in the negative. Her Majesty’s Government have seen no cause to take part on either side in the differences between King Malietoa and the Emperor of Germany. At present, Tamasese is the King de facto, and will be recognized as such in practice by Her Majesty’s Government according to the ordinary rules. No change has taken place in the treaty relations between England, Germany, and the United States in regard to Samoa.

Mr. W. McArthur. Do I understand the right honorable gentleman to say Her Majesty’s Government have no information as to paragraph 4?

Sir J. Fergusson. Her Majesty’s Government have not been consulted on the matter by the Government of Germany.

Mr. W. McArthur. Does Her Majesty’s Government propose to disavow the action of their agent? [Hear, hear.]

Sir J. Fergusson. Owing to the delay in the telegraph, our agent took action on his own responsibility and without communication from us.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 749.—The London Times, Friday, May 11, 1888.]


Mr. W. McArthur asked the under-secretary of state for foreign affairs whether he would give the date on which the English Government agreed to sanction the abandonment by Germany of the convention respecting Samoa.

Sir J. Fergusson. No formal agreement has been entered into for the abrogation of the convention of 1879 respecting the municipal board of Apia, but as the continuance of that board had become impracticable, orders were, on the 24th of February, sent to the acting British consul to consider the convention as suspended. The district has accordingly passed under the control of the de facto Samoan Government, as provided by article 10 of the convention in case of its termination.

In reply to further questions from Mr. W. McArthur, Sir J. Fergusson said: “In the reply which I gave on May 3, the date which I mentioned refers to the present year. I then stated accurately that the German Government had informed Her Majesty’s Government that it was their intention to demand reparation from Malietoa, which, of course, might involve farther proceedings. The telegram informing the British consul was delayed because no vessel was immediately available to forward it from New Zealand, and the consul, in the absence of instructions, acted on his own responsibility.”

Mr. McArthur. Are we to understand that the German Government gave such short notice that there was no time for inquiry? [Hear, hear.]

Sir J. Fergusson. We are now coming to a different and complicated matter, and I ought to have notice of the question. [Hear, hear.]

Mr. Conybeare Will the right honorable gentleman lay a return upon the table showing the grounds upon which consuls can act without instructions from their superiors?

Sir J. Fergusson; There can be no possible reason why notice of a question of that kind should not be given. [Hear, hear.]